Me & My Money


Damien O’Brien, managing partner SME Matters

Are you a saver or a spender?

Definitely a spender. Having a young family, though, has certainly changed my habits. I used to buy a lot of techie gear, now I spend it on kids’ gear! I have recently started saving for their future needs, however.

Do you shop around for better value?

Yes, all the time. I did it even before it became fashionable. I find it hard to believe anyone would not shop around, particularly for items such as insurance, healthcare and services.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?

I think the most extravagant purchase I ever made was my wife’s engagement ring (16 years ago).

I worked in America all summer and this was what I bought with the proceeds. She didn’t know I did it and happily she still loves it.

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?

The best money I spend now is on my own development.

As I regularly give talks and seminars to business owners, I have to keep myself up to date on the latest thinking, so I read a lot of books and attend development programmes regularly to keep “mind fit”.

What ways do you prefer to shop – online or local?

It is probably a 50-50 split at the moment.

I would buy all IT equipment, books and business supplies online, but for home purchases like groceries, clothes and lifestyle, I would shop local, religiously.

I’ve only once crossed the Border – about four years ago. I thought it more hassle than it was worth.

I honestly think there is fantastic value to be had here and I now like to spend my money in my own town to support local businesses.

Do you haggle over prices?

All the time! My wife gets embarrassed in shops, though, when I start haggling over a few euro for a purchase.

I enjoy the banter of it and most business owners have a bit of fun in the process, also.

Has the recession changed your spending habits?

That is hard to say.

I think the recession has brought great value to the market and I now feel I get good value for money on the products I buy.

Do you invest in shares?

No. I decided to invest in property.

Cash or card?

Card. I use a card for everything. Easier to track! I always have a few notes in my wallet but everything usually goes on the card.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?

My last purchase was a new suit. I buy them from a client of mine on South Anne Street, Dublin – excellent value for money.

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase?

Despite classifying myself as a spender, once I need to put money aside for something in particular. I am pretty determined, be it our home, car or even an ill-fated property investment.

Have you ever lost money?

Yes. I bought property in 2007. It’s now worth less than half of what I paid for it.

Are you a gambler and if so have you ever had a big win?

I play poker every month with a group of friends, it’s competitively friendly.

And, yes, I have won my share of games.

Is money important to you?

Money does not rule my life. However, with no real support structures for the self-employed, it means having to have a tight focus on money, particularly when it comes to family security, health cover and insurance.

How much money do you have on you now?

I have €55 in my wallet. Surprised even myself when I looked! This is unusual, though.